The Government has assured dealers in fertilizer industry that the market was liberalized for free trade without interference from state agencies.
Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives CS Peter Munya, told the traders that the government’s only interest was to ensure that farmers bought fertilizer at affordable prices.
“I want to assure you this, and it comes from the highest office in the land and Cabinet, that the government does not plan to import, stock or distribute fertilizer. it is a major policy decision taken and it will not change because it comes from the highest office in the land, and has Cabinet approval. “, he said .
During a meeting today, dealers had requested the CS to assure them that there would be no change of policy next year and the government would not interfere in the fertilizer trade.
Responding to other concerns by the traders, Munya also pledged to hold discussions with the Ministry of Transport to find ways of ending delays in offloading fertilizers at the Port of Mombasa.
The traders had complained that ships sometimes have to wait two weeks for fertiliser to be offloaded while other material such as that used in the manufacture of cement is given priority.
So far this year, 485,000 metric tons of fertiliser has been imported by private dealers this year, and it is expected to rise to 640,000 metric tons by December and for this , the traders asked for a dedicated berth in Mombasa to handle fertiliser imports.
The Principal Secretary for Crop and Research Prof Hamadi Boga urged for cooperation between traders and the government to test soil samples in different areas of the country to decide on the type of fertilizer and seed to be used for maximum yield.
“Some blenders said they already incorporate agricultural lime in their fertilizer to help reduce acidity in soil. Tests and the type of seed will be dealt with in the e-voucher system where the government subsidises farmers to test soil, buy seed and fertiliser£, he added.
The assurance just comes a few months after the government finalised plans to roll out a digital platform through which at least 200,000 small scale farmers will enlist for supply of farm inputs at affordable rates
The National e-voucher program that would see 12 selected pilot counties benefit from the new system was launched by CS Munya at the Ahero Multipurpose Centre in Kisumu County in August tailored to improve food production in the country
Under the e-voucher system, farmers will receive a voucher from their respective County Governments to buy farm inputs from the nearest agro dealers, who will later claim their payments from the government
Government in November 2018 proposed to use e-vouchers for farmers to buy subsidized fertilizer from private agro-vet shops, to weed out unscrupulous traders who had infiltrated the distribution chain to cash on the bureaucratic process at the time.
By Wangari Ndirangu